Everyone has their version of a travel “bible” or manual when they hit the road. Some rely on advice from friends, social media or even children’s books when traveling to a new place. While I love all of those and use them in my pre-planning process, I still prefer a good old-fashioned guidebook, like Moon Travel Guides.
Internet access can be a bit unreliable for my taste, especially when traveling to remote destinations. When we were planning our trip to Ireland, I picked up the Moon Travel Guide Ireland (grab yours here). I’ve used Moon guides on trips before, so I knew that I would get solid information and recommendations from the author.
What Sets Moon Travel Guidebooks A Part
Moon Travel Guide Ireland is not a family specific guide. It is much more generic, catering to every traveler, but skewing towards the younger traveler at times.
The thing I love most about Moon Travel Guides is they allow their authors’ unique voices to shine across every page. There isn’t a standard Moon “voice”. Pick up a guide on New York and it could sound completely different from the Ireland guide I was carrying.
Camille DeAngelis, the author of Moon Travel Guide Ireland, is down to earth, quite possibly a vegan given all the recommendations for the non-meat eaters in the book, and just the right amount of snarky to keep my attention. I mean really, in her own author’s bio she claims to “enjoy all things Irish: making ten-point K-turns on country roads, a hot whiskey at the corner pub, and relishing the days experiences back at the B&B.” While I whole-heartedly agree with the last two, no one in their right mind likes to make a 10-point turn.
DeAngelis was obviously the right person (erm… voice) to take along on our trip albeit in book form.
My Husband Stole My Moon Travel Guide Ireland
Now, before we really dive into how I planned our trip using this guidebook, I need you to understand how my marriage works.
I am in charge of booking our flights, the rental car and plane tickets. I handle the logistics and my husband is typically in charge of planning our day to day activities. He is supposed to dive into the guidebook, getting into the nitty gritty of our trip long before we arrive.
The problems started this time when he wandered off with my guidebook and I was set to leave a week before him with the boys.
Thankfully, the kind folks at Moon Travel Guidebooks sent me two copies. Little did he know I had preplanned for this exact moment. While he had a crisp new copy, I had been dog-earring and aggressively highlighting the chapters covering the counties we planned to visit without him.
Need two copies too? Grab yours here.
Pretty Colors, Better Maps
What I really need in a guidebook are maps, photos, accurate information and tons of color. Moon Travel Guidebooks are light on photos, but packed with maps and information organized in such a way that makes it easy to sort through. When you stay at seven B&Bs and hotels in two weeks in at least five different towns, you tend to forget just where you are.
The large front map helped us understand just how many counties we were traveling through on any given day (drive from Westport to Dublin and you will see a LOT). The maps within each section gave us a more detailed view of the roads, points of interest along the way, and a detour or two we might want to take (yes, we took many of them).
As I mentioned, I like bright and shiny colors, and Moon Travel Guides Ireland did not disappoint. Each chapter has a specific color tab, so I knew to get to Kerry, I just had to flip to Purple. Galway was blue. Be still my color-coded heart.
Take the Snark with a Grain of Salt
Every guidebook shares its own opinions about what is worth a stop. While I enjoyed many of DeAngelis’s recommendations, I did feel she missed the mark on a few stops we opted to take. She claimed that Clifden was a tourist trap, which it may well have been for some seasoned travelers to Ireland, but we still enjoyed the town.
We met Irish families who travel there often and love the area. She also claimed that you shouldn’t have high expectations when it comes to dining on Achill Island. We took that advice and were very pleasantly surprised at the Beehive, a café/craft shop on the main route out to Keem Bay.
Like any travel writer, yours truly included, we all have our own opinions. The fact is, not everyone travels the same way. It is up to YOU to decide what is worth your time, and travel for what you love.
It’s best to take all the information and then pick and choose what you will do with it. If shopping and dining are your thing, don’t skip a town just because a guidebook tells you to.
Everyone loves Dublin, and yet, I decided to head straight out the morning after we arrived because I was just too overwhelmed and wanted to hit the countryside. Right choice? It was for me!
Irish History, Travel Tips and Essentials
While you can buy an entire book on Irish history and travel essentials through Ireland, Moon Travel Guides Ireland provides the “Cliff Notes” version.
For a busy mother and professional, this is a godsend. I don’t need treaties on the early Celts, Cromwell and the Famine, but I do want to know enough about it to understand the sights and artifacts I am seeing.
The guide briefly touches on family travel in Ireland, but since traveling in Ireland with kids is so easy, the information is basically the same. The itineraries are geared more towards the 20-something, backpacker set, so take those with a grain of salt too.
What you will get is solid information for navigating the country, seeing the historic sights that made you book the trip in the first place, and lesser known sights that weren’t even on your radar.
An Ireland Guidebook Saves the Day
By the end of our trip, my Moon Travel Guide Ireland was a bit beat up. It had some coffee stains on it, was a bit more colorful thanks to multiple highlighter colors and had lots of notes scribbled on its pages. This book had seen the southern coast of Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way as we traced my Irish heritage.
At multiple points along our journey I had no cell service. I couldn’t Google a sight or look up more information on a destination. My Ireland guidebook became my map, my history book and my how-to guide.
In a digital age, it was a good reminder that you should never forget the power of paper. Sometimes it can make all the difference in as you explore a new country.
This post is part of a paid partnership with Moon Travel Guides. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.